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Safety Planning and Coping during a Pandemic

Social Distancing? Curfews? A Pandemic?

Given the CDC’s most recent recommendations to limit social interactions and stay at home as much as possible, I can’t be the only one wondering how this is going to impact mental health and the level of violence survivors experience day to day. Therapists often recommend using social support systems and engaging in hobbies outside of work in order to improve or maintain mental health. In a time period when isolation and limited interaction is key for slowing down the spread of disease, how can community members continue prioritize safety?

First, I want to limit the spread of misinformation through media. The most accurate sources of information at this time are through the CDC’s website: the NJ DOH page:

I can imagine that many survivors and families will be placed in difficult and even painful situations given school, work, and various business changes. DASACC Counselors want to share with you our top tips for safety planning with interpersonal violence during this time:

  • If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, please call 911.

  • Keep your phone on and charged at all times.

  • Be aware of safe exit strategies in your own home.

  • Keep a spare set of keys within reach. Park your car backed into the driveway and keep a full tank of gas in it. If necessary, keep spare clothing, children’s needs, cash, and copies of important documents in a to-go bag in a hidden space.

  • Create a code word to text with trusted friends or family that signals to them that you are in danger and need help.

  • Create a safety plan with your children by developing a code word that signals they should leave the house and go to a trusted neighbor.

  • Keep copies of important legal documents such as; financial documents, identification, evidence of past abuse or restraining orders, medical records, and names of witnesses or important phone numbers.

  • When violence occurs inside your home: lead abusers away from children or vulnerable adults, avoid the kitchen which has hard surfaces and possible weapons, avoid the bathroom which has hard surfaces and limited escape routes, avoid garages which has possible weapons, and avoid upstairs rooms which have no safe escape route. Leave the home as soon as possible and lock car doors if able to flee by car.

  • Prepare for children’s or pet’s needs by storing spare supplies in an easy to access bag.

  • If you are experiencing harassment or stalking; keep documentation of incidents, change up your daily routine and daily route by changing the time you leave your house and use alternate routes, change any scheduled appointments, and buy a prepaid phone, if possible.